NewsReel 25/5/14 - Dee Bob Ogbuagu at 89

[ Masterweb Reports: Charles Ajunwa reports ] - It is another May 25th. Once again, the great and good people of Nigeria are celebrating one of the greatest and most illustrious Nigerians ever Chief Bob Beremako Ewuolonu Ogbuagu who is 89 today. Though an old man, a very one mad indeed, yet with his spare ascetic frame, he is still looking very dignified and sprightly, wearing professorial and well-mannered solemnity; an old man with life of a youth. An embodiment of spontaneous zest, a man with a vigorous capacity to engage life and living in all their riotous possibilities, a mentor, a senior friend and an intellectual sparring partner. That was the package that fortune gave to the sleepy town of Umuagbom Umukabia Okaiuga, Alaike autonomous community in Ohuhu Clan of Umuahia North Local Government Area of Abia State, Nigeria on Sunday 25th May, 1925 through the family of Chief Francis Udegbu Ogbuagu, a Methodist Church school teacher who retired as a Headmaster of schools, and his wife, Madam Janet Nwannediya Ogbuagu.
Possessed of a warrior and swashbuckling strain passed down from ancestors and a father who braved western education at a time when it was alien to do that and ended up as the first indigenous teachers of the area; he passed through famous Methodist College Uzuakoli where the language was discipline. Exactly 20 years later, in 1945, Dee Bob had raced through the elaborately spaced out primary and secondary levels of education, passing the Senior Cambridge School Certificate examination in Grade 1 with exemption from London Matriculation. In Uzuakoli particularly, he was arguably one of the most intellectually-gifted and mentally-equipped youngsters of his generation, and not to forget also one of its most ideologically conflicted. ‘Had Bob not become a politician of note, he would have been a formidable scholar and a distinguished professor of literature. Such was his breadth of learning, his wealth of cultural references, his cosmopolitan taste and the acuity of his literary prowess. He was intuitively perceptive and his intellectual antennae honed to precision.
This octogenarian, the Doctor of Letters, the political pugilist, the prophet, pan- Nigerian patriot and Igbo patriarch jostled for survival first with the Nigerian Secretariat in Kaduna in 1946 as a Third Class Clerk after serving a brief period as Clerk, (Hides and Skins) with John Holt Company Ltd in Gusau, now capital of Zamfara State.. Finding the Job as a clerk in the Secretariat uninteresting, young Bob switched over to the Geological Survey Department in Kaduna as a Geological Assistant.
Although these jobs appeared to promise an end to his economic struggle, it did not stop Bob from becoming involved in the then growing restiveness in Nigeria against the actions of the ruling British Colonial government. He joined the growing agitation of the people to achieve self determination and freedom from the totally unjustifiable British colonial rule which found its most articulate expression in Zikist Movement. And the story of his earliest active years, after school is the story of his participation, political activism and contributions via Zikist Movement and National Council of Nigeria and Cameroons (NCNC) and sufferings in the hands of the British Colonial government in the morning hours of the Nigerian nationalist struggle, between 1946 and 1955.
Zikist Movement which was formed in Lagos by a number of young radical Nigerians on February 2, 1946 with Mr. Kolawole Balogun as President and M.C.K. Ajuluchukwu as Secretary, had their largest membership from a crop of young Nigerians between the ages of 20 and 30. These were young men, probably not more than two thousand in number nationwide with no other motivation than the very strong and unshakeable belief in freedom in all its ramifications from colonial rule The Zikist movement was anchored “on the ideology and philosophy of Zik’s book, Renascent Africa which was given flesh by Nwafor Orizu in his book Without Bitterness. Zikists have as their declared aim, “the establishment and fostering of a new society based on promotion of harmony and unity.” That was the moving spirit of the Zikist movement, an affiliate of the political party, the NCNC (National Council of Nigeria and Cameroons), which metamorphosed into the National Council of Nigerian Citizens when Southern Cameroons disengaged from Nigeria. Zikism became a vehicle of political reawakening among the workers and young people. Bob’s assignments, in addition to attending the sessions, were to act as Zik’s ADC both at his residence and at all his engagements.
To add to their weapon of ideological war, most of the leaders of the struggle established newspapers as further measures of public enlightenment, to take the people to the home and heart of the message of their intensive political struggle. Bob founded the Northern Advocate in 1948, as publisher and Editor, after leaving public service which he effectively deployed to the propagation of the nationalist cause and which was to cost him his freedom. Bob particularly in the Northern Advocate, without any formal training in Journalism, used to write so masterfully and movingly, even as he does today, of the aberrations of the colonialists that his activities brought him face to face with the might of the colonialists. Against the pro-British liberal literatures that were panegyrics of the colonial system, Northern Advocate, under Bob was stern in denouncing the tyranny of the British. According to him, with touching and sometimes incredible examples, he incisively and persuasively showed, through a popular column Tori na Today, how the British had created unnecessary tension/fear and turned the people into mere things, and his ability to communicate in simple language earned him wide readership. That newspaper died prematurely in 1955 when Bob, Publisher and Editor, having been jailed by the British colonial masters for sedition, decided to return to his homeland in Eastern Nigeria.
Bob remained a frontliner in the Zikist Movement and NCNC Party and served at various levels of the NCNC as Branch President and Secretary. Few of those daring radicals in the anti-colonial political activism, under the umbrella of the fearless and very daring Zikist Movement, with Bob were late Mallam Raji Abdallah of Kano, Chief Dr. Mokwugwo Okoye, Chief M.C.K Ajuluchukwu, Dr. Kola Balogun and still alive, His Royal Majesty, Osita Agwuna, the Eze Nri and Igwe of Enugu Ukwu, Professor Ikenna Nzimiro, Chief Harry Nwana and many others. The NCNC was led by the late sage-Engr. Herbert Macaulay, and, on his demise, the arrow-head, Rt. Hon. Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, Owelle Asowa ayan of Onitsha took over the mantle of leadership.
A man that sees stumbling blocks as stepping stones, Bob immediately picked the pieces of his life and returned to the Eastern Nigeria. What the North lost with that contrived exit, the government of the Eastern Region gained. For, in the same 1955, Chief Ogbuagu joined the Eastern Region Development Corporation as a Press Officer. Within four years, Bob had occupied all available media-related jobs in the Eastern Region Development Corporation. In 1958, Dee Bob did a short stint with a Film Production Company in London, British. In 1960, he attended a United States of America Leadership Programme.
In 1960, he was appointed Assistant Secretary to the Eastern Nigeria Development Corporation which, by Law, had taken over the affairs of the Eastern Region Development Corporation and, within one year, was named the Corporation’s Secretary/Chief Administration Officer, a position he held until 1966, when the ravages of the ensuing political skirmishes that brought coups and counter coups all culminating in the Civil War, brought everything to a stand still. During that period, precisely in 1964, he attended the University of Cambridge Conference (Seminar) on economic and manpower development.
Versatile, hardworking and erudite, in 1977, he attended the Top Management Course at the Prestigious Brookings Institute, Washington D.C.U.S.A. Bob later held other top positions in government as Managing Director, East Central State Government’s Agricultural Development Corporation; Founding General Manager, Imo State Government Agricultural Development Corporation and Commissioner-in-charge, Special Duties, in the Executive Office of the Governor of Imo State as well as the Adviser to the Gove
html add here